Seriously, MORE Festivals?!?! (yes, but this time there’s cheddar!)

Ciao Readers!

Okay, if you’re tired of hearing about all of the festivals here, this is not the post for you.  Then again, if you’re a festival junkie like me, read on…

It’s almost hard for me to believe how many festivals there are here in Florence.  I think I’ve just decided that festivals are a part of everyday life – like little food markets, the passeggiata and cappuccinos (and, “purtroppo,” the post office).  Seriously, I can’t remember a weekend in the past several months where there wasn’t at least one festival or festival-like happening.  And now that it’s the holiday season…well, you can do the math!

This past week marked the start of the German Christmas Market which runs for about 3 weeks in Piazza Santa Croce (recall this is where the European Food Festival was held).  It’s a little like that festival (complete with wurst), but with more permanent and holiday-adorned stalls, as well as more non-food gift items (pictures below).  There’s also the addition of a cold-weather treat we sampled – mulled wine (pictured in Steve’s hand) – we could not put our finger on what gave it its unique flavor (wine, spices, and….varnish?).

While all of that was fun enough, the festival came to an exciting crescendo when we came across the gentleman from England and his wondrous booth of… CHEDDAR CHEESE!!!!  (I actually yelled out-loud, in English, “OMG, he has CHEDDAR CHEESE!!!”)  Okay, now those of you reading this back in the States may be thinking “huh, what’s the big deal?”  I’ll tell you what the big deal is – it is the first time in 4 months we’ve had a taste of real cheddar cheese (and we used to eat this stuff by the pounds back in ABQ)!  (You may recall I have said you can get [very expensive] cheddar at Pegna, which is true, but the taste is not spot-on).  Not only does the English chap (pictured) have cheddar cheese, but he has a mind-boggling array of varieties (with jalapenos anyone?).  I think we were too overwhelmed by excitement (and taste-testing) to make coherent choices, but we did come home with two blocks (some of which will make its way into enchiladas tomorrow night; while we have no green chile, I did bring dried red).  We’ve agreed it’s worth the splurge, so before the festival ends we are going to go back and get one of the flavor assortment wheels pictured.  Woo Hoo!!!  (I actually had to e-mail another expat who I know stays on the lookout for cheddar as well – she responded with similar enthusiasm [“Yuuuuuum. How totally exciting!!”]).

I know it’s been a blog-post-filled week – thanks for reading and have a great weekend!!!

The Best Truffle Festival EVER!!! (In San Miniato)

Ciao Readers!

Okay, my mouth is watering just reminiscing about this festival and I am still smiling thinking about the fabulous little town it was in – San Miniato.  Apparently for the last 3 weekends of November every year for the past 42 years this little town has had the largest truffle festival in all of Tuscany (truffles as in fungi, not chocolate, though there was some of that as well).  It was so much fun (and soooooo delicious [if you like truffles])!

Now, for those of you paying extra close attention, you may remember that San Miniato is the name of the church on the top of the hill overlooking Florence (and supposedly where San Miniato brought his severed head).  Contrary to what I first thought, this is not where the festival was – there is actually a separate town (requiring a 40 minute train ride, then a bus ride into town) called San Miniato.  While it is a very ancient and historic city (which you can read about here), it also had a very modern and relaxed feel (complete with a “peace” restaurant and funky musicians, pictured).   It is also on top of a hill, so it has great views.

The festival itself spread throughout town – with various booths selling both truffle and non-truffle-related food specialties (and providing tastes) as well as full-fledged food stalls serving many truffle-based dishes.  Anywhere you walked in town you bumped into another section of food stalls (as well as all-around good cheer).  Pictured (row 1) is some of the truffle pasta we had (okay, not tons of truffles, but it really was yummy and truffle-y tasting) as well as the makings of our truffle-infused porchetta sandwich (YUM!) and our non-truffle infused pistachio cannoli for dessert.   The next photos are various shots taken at the festival, followed by shots of the very cool town (including one of Steve looking content) and views.   I can’t say enough about what a lovely day and festival this was.  If you’re ever in Tuscany this time of year, it’s a “can’t miss”!  Thanks for coming along…

Florence Fall Food Festival Photo Fun!

Ciao Readers!

Yes, the alliteration and food festivals continue!  There have pretty much been non-stop festivals since September, but apparently November is the month for even more festivities.  There is a month-long ongoing food and cultural festival in town – complete with lectures, art exhibits (stay tuned for a future blog), and of course – food!  It’s not only wine and olive harvest season, but the season of my most favorite delicacy – truffles!

In addition to this big event, there are small food festivals popping up in different piazzas all the time.  The first weekend of November there was one in the piazza across from Sant’ Ambrogio market, which we discovered totally by accident when we went to do shopping.  This festival (pictured first, with red and blue tables) was off the tourist trail, so the tasting portions were more generous and the truffle guy even took time to “pose” his truffles for my photo (the next photos are from the festival in Piazza della Repubblica the following weekend).  We got this great spicy vegetable spread (pictured wrapped like a firecracker) and munched on yummy sweets from Sicily (also pictured).

Since I think this is definitely a case where a photo is worth more than words, I’ll stop talking and just let you see for yourself.  Enjoy!

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